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Metro teams find success, disappointment in CIF softball playoffs Phillip Brents | Wed, May 28 2014 07:28 PM

The Hilltop High School softball team received the No. 1 seed in this year’s San Diego Section Division III playoff tournament and, while the Lancers came up winners in their first game, coach Nancy Acerrio’s band of high-achievers bowed out of this year’s post-season tournament following a 9-8 loss to seventh-seeded San Dieguito Academy on Tuesday.

“It was a great achievement for the team, for the kids to be recognized,” Acerrios noted after Tuesday’s setback. “I told them how proud I was of them.

“We have the potential. We’re a young team. Hopefully, we’ll be back here next year and go farther.”

The Lancers finished the season with an otherwise outstanding 18-11 season that included honors as the inaugural champions of the Metro-Pacific League. Hilltop finished 5-0 in league play against west side rivals Chula Vista, Sweetwater and Castle Park.

It was the first league title for the Lancers since 2011.

“However you serve it up, we’ll take it,” Acerrio said. “We enjoyed playing the teams we did in league play and in cross-over play. We also played in three tournaments (Cougar Classic, Hilltop Invitational and Falcon Fiesta).

“I guess our big claim to fame this year was beating Cathedral Catholic (4-3 in a non-league home game on April 5). That had to help our seeding.”

Rayna Moraga started in the pitching circle for Hilltop in Tuesday’s third-round elimination game. The Mustangs scored five runs in the second inning to lead 5-2 early on, though the hosts quickly began to chip away at the San Dieguito lead.

Hilltop finally tied up the score 6-all in the bottom of the fifth inning, but the visitors promptly chalked up three more runs in the top of the sixth inning while the Lancers came back with two runs of their own.

Victoria Finau led Hilltop at the plate by going three-for-three with a home run and two singles.

The Lancers topped visiting Serra, 11-6, in their first playoff game on May 22 as junior Sandra Reza drove in four runs and freshman Ariana Rodriguez collected two RBI. Hilltop racked up 13 hits but also committed six errors.

However, the top-seeded Lancers could not maintain its momentum, falling by a 5-0 score to fifth-seeded Horizon Christian in its second game on May 24.

Staying alive

Eastlake, top-seeded in Division II, was handed the inglorious task of fighting its way through the elimination bracket after suffering a 5-1 loss to ninth-seeded San Pasqual in the opening round of play on May 22.

The Titans (18-9) came back strong with two wins, eliminating fourth-seeded Escondido, 4-1, in a second-round game on May 24 and nipping second-seeded Patrick Henry with an exciting walk-off 3-2 win on Tuesday.

Hadyn Christensen knocked in Bianca Mancilla for the game-winning run. Winning pitcher Samantha Manti scattered five hits while striking out eight batters.

Manti tossed a one-hitter while striking out nine batters in the preceding victory against Escondido while Christensen slugged a double and triple and finshed the game with tow RBI.

Patrick Henry dropped to the elimination bracket following Saturday’s 11-9 loss to third-seeded Mater Dei Catholic, which advanced to Thursday’s division semifinals with the upset victory.

Also joining the Crusaders in the division semifinals were second-seeded Otay Ranch (Division I) and top-seeded Southwest (Division V).

Otay Ranch marched on with wins over 10th-seeded Fallbrook (7-6 on May 22) and third-seeded Mt. Carmel (5-3 on May 24) while Southwest advanced with successive victories against eighth-seeded Borrego Springs (3-1 on May 21) and fourth-seeded Foothills Christian (19-5 on May 24).

Mater Dei Catholic (17-11) thumped visiting Southwest El Centro, 9-1, in its playoff opener on May 22 before taking down the Patriots, who finished regular season play with 24 wins.

Eva Gonzales led the Crusaders with a home run and four RBI in the win over Patrick Henry while Alexis Morales went four-for-five at the plate and teammate Anissa Carrillo went three-for-four.

The Division V final is scheduled Friday at 5:30 p.m. at UC San Diego while the Division I championship game is scheduled Saturday at 4:30 p.m. at the same site, preceded by the Division II final at 2 p.m.

Bonita Vista (18-6) remained in contention in the Open Division with a clutch 6-2 win against fourth-seeded Rancho Bernardo in third-round elimination play on Tuesday. The third-seeded Barons, who were unceremoniously battered by an 11-2 score by second-seeded Carlsbad in Saturday’s second round, advanced to Thursday’s fourth round.

Fifth-seeded Westview (24-4-1), buoyed by upsets over No. 4 RB and No. 1 Poway, and Carlsbad (17-5) both advanced to Thursday’s semifinals as the only two unbeaten teams in the eight-team bracket.

Bonita Vista opened the playoffs with a 9-2 win over sixth-seeded Torrey Pines on May 21.

The Open Division championship game is scheduled Saturday at 7 p.m. at UC San Diego.

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